Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Something To Declare - Not For The Squeamish
Every area of employment must have it's own career related horror stories. You know, the sort of niche/job specific, urban myths, late night legends or even occasionally true tales that are related and reheated with shifty whispers and knowing nods.
In a former life I was a low-level civil servant working in the Train-The-Trainers department of Customs and Excise, where most of the senior staff, trainers or managers had served some sort of stretch in The Field being based at ports, airports or the Investigations Division (C&E's equivalent of The Sweeney) keeping a stealthy eye out for smugglers, stuffers and swallowers. A few of the tales told at leaving dos or seasonal drink-ups included...
A manager I worked under, who had previously been based at Dover (in the pre H & S 80s) was regularly required to carry out strip searches on any pulled-in suspects. His cut-off point came at lifting their 'old fella' with a ruler. If he hadn't found anything by then - they could keep it.
Part of the training for new field staff included role-play strip searches on volunteers (usually the same over-fifties volunteers everytime). I say role play but the searchees were completely starkers during the searches, with one of the ladies stow-it-away specialisms including tucking a pencil under the folds of her heavyset chest, where it usually stayed undiscovered everytime.
Now this one may be a shaggy dog story, but, I only heard it once while at Customs, and have never heard variations or re-tellings of it since - so you never know.
Medics became a legal requirement at strip searches after an incident where, a thread was spotted trailing party popper style from a suspects Parsons Nose. The over-zealous Customs Officer taking it as the sure-fire sign of a 'stuffer' grabbed the cotton whipping it out with the force of someone starting an outboard motor. The suspect collapsed concertina-style as the thread had been the tail end of internal stitches..
I could add intestines being sucked into aeroplane loos, clear perspex toilets to collect swallowers deposits, an overpowering lack of personal hygiene employed by stuffers to put people off the scent - literally. But perhaps I'll save those treats for next time..
Enjoy your lunch